Here’s a topic that I had a tough time overcoming over the years. And, I still find myself working on this issue: waiting for everything to be perfect before moving to the next step. This may include practicing an effect for years before even testing it in front of someone. Or, waiting for the perfect timing to make a call to a new client or venue. (Not the perfect time of day. I mean perfect timing in the sense that you feel the need to have your act fully rehearsed or you think you need the space in your calendar freed up before making the call.) Perhaps you’re practicing a sleight for years and never using it because you don’t feel that it’s perfect. I’m sure you’re guilty of at least one of these things. Waiting for perfection will actually prevent so many opportunities. I’m not saying to just jump into any and all situations. But I am saying that you can prepare and take action even though you know there is room for improvement. Nothing is perfect. (Except for my bottom deal.) So, get started now and improve as you go.
Let’s talk about some situations. You may have a list of clients you’re waiting to call. However, the act isn’t ready. Or, you feel like everything needs more practice. Or you fear rejection. You may think, “Let me build up the courage first so I can deal with rejection if it happens.” Or, “I can’t call that client yet. If they give me the date, I may not be able to commit because my calendar is full anyway. I don’t want to waste the clients time.” Does any of this sound familiar? This is your brain making excuses to keep you in your comfort zone. Your brain is really good at this.
You can have the client’s phone number in front of you and you’ll instantly come up with lots of reasons not to call. My advice: call anyway. You’re certainly not going to get the gig by not calling. Also, touching base will keep the relationship fresh. If you wait too long, the client may not even remember you. If you do get the gig, that’s great. Now you have a deadline to meet. This will force you to prepare. If you keep putting off the call, chances are you’ll keep putting off the preparation.
Another situation that I find myself fighting the perfectionist trap is when I create new effects. I feel like I want it perfect before taking it into the field. My character is someone who’s always right and he’s the smartest guy in the room. He never fails. So trying new material is always tricky because he simply can’t fail. I force myself to pull the trigger. Otherwise, I’ll never get the routine into my working repertoire. You may have a new effect that you’re practicing. However, when it comes time to perform it, you bail. Again, your brain is giving you a ton of reasons not to do the trick. “Do something you KNOW will work!” “There’s too many people now.” “I’m surrounded and not sure that new thing is angle proof.” They really like the material I’m doing right now. Why change to something different.” My advice: Just do it. There’s always got to be that first time. Now, I don’t suggest doing new material when you’re headlining at Carnegie Hall for the first time. Try new stuff for strangers at a coffee shop or when you’re hanging with friends and family. I have a group of friends I can try new things out with and they don’t care how things turn out. But look what’s happening. I’m now performing the effect, not just perfecting the effect. At the cost of possibly screwing the trick up a few times, I’ve now added it to my working repertoire.
Let’s look at sleights that you’re perfecting. Not all sleights are created equal. Some sleights are harder to master than others. You need to film these sleights and or practice them in front of a mirror. (This mirror to be precise.) There’s not much room to fake it here. A sleight either works or it doesn’t. If you try the “just do it” advice, you’re going to get burned. So, stick with the sleights that you feel you’ve mastered. Do effects that use only those mastered sleights. I see this problem with a lot with up and coming magicians. It looks like their mentality is to just fake their way through the hard sleight of hand. Do it fast and no one will notice. You need to take an honest look at your technical skills and choose what’s good and what’s not. However, my point about perfectionism is still valid here. Once the sleight starts to look good, you’ll still hear that voice in your mind telling you “it’s not ready yet.” Once the sleight is up to par, commit. Your first few times executing new moves in front of people will be a bit rough. But after a few performances, you’ll get comfortable with these new sleights.
Just remember, there’s no such thing and perfect timing. If you wait for everything to be just right, it’s really going to slow down the path to success. Get your technical skills up to par, commit to the material and the sleights and make those business calls. You’ll get to where you want to be much faster than just sitting in a loop of constant practicing and perfecting without taking action.